Around 200 million people are affected by disasters every year. A third of them are children, according to the ILO.
In 2019, Mozambique was hit by two major cyclones, affecting 3 million children, families and farmers. Over 750,000 hectares of farming land was destroyed, that’s the equivalent of 600,000 football fields of crops. Nearly 300,000 homes and schools were ruined from the flooding and strong winds. Precious life and valuable property, including livestock, clothes and books were also lost. In the months that followed the devastation, the few schools and classrooms that survived the cyclone were converted into temporary shelter for surrounding communities, further disrupting students’ learning.
Natural disasters are increasingly becoming a root cause of child labour. When livelihoods are destroyed and families cannot meet their basic needs, if there are no schools anymore or school materials to use or when households are child-headed, often there is no choice but for children to give up education and work for their and families’ survival. Supporting families’ resilience in the face of more frequent and severe natural disasters is an important part of protecting children from child labour.
Rebuilding resilient farming
In Mozambique, ECLT's project partner International Development Entreprise (ide) set up a scheme to support rural communities to help farmers get back on their feet, learn new farming technologies and improve food security called the Farmer Resilience and Rebuilding Initiative (FRRI).
Farmer Field Schools are part of the FRRI, and aim to improve farmer family livelihoods through technical farming and business skills trainings. Farmer Field Schools are adapted to the context, supply and demand of local markets so that farmers always have a place to sell their products. Local trainers work with community members to learn about land preparation, sowing, fertilisation, pest and disease control, and other activities before and after harvest. Basic business skills such as profit calculation, record-keeping, and marketing are also providing farmers with ways to diversify their income and become more resilient to poor yields and economic shocks.
New farming technologies like greenhouses boost crop fertility and protect valuable crops from natural disasters such as droughts, soil erosion and other unpredictable weather events. ECLT is supporting schools tunnels to grow vegetables like tomatoes, onions, kale and cabbage for school meals and to teach children about safe farming. In one season a tunnel in Chokwe in Angonia district, for example, harvested 40kg of tomato, 78kg of cabbage, 15kg of onions and 900 lettuces for the local school, enough food for a whole school term.
Getting children back into school
Quality education is a key part of putting children on the paths to get out of child labour and reach their potential. Over the next three years, training for teachers and improved facilities and materials will encourage children to join or stay in school. By supporting schools to be a happy, safe and welcoming environment, children are more likely to remain in education and away from dangerous work in fields.
ECLT working with FAA, have also set up afterschool programmes like children’s parliaments as a school club to establish a formal space where children can learn about promoting and protecting their rights. Over 200 children have been involved since the cyclones with topics focusing on child labour, environment, health and education.
In 2018, the ECLT Foundation joined together with the Government of Mozambique in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create a platform to combat child labour and strengthen children’s rights, particularly those in rural areas where tobacco is grown. Over a 3-year period, the MoU will focus on, getting children out of child labour, community education and training, awareness and communication, institutional capacity building and revising legal frameworks.